The major U.S. equity markets finished higher on Thursday with the blue chip Dow posting a record close. The benchmark S&P 500 Index was also higher, closing within half a percent of its all-time high. The tech-based NASDAQ Composite struggled all session before posting a slight gain.
In the cash market, the Dow Jones Industrial Average settled at 24837.51, up 63.21 or +0.26%. The S&P 500 Index finished at 2687.54, up 4.92 or +0.18% and the NASDAQ Composite ended the session at 6949.30, up 9.96 or +0.14%.
The e-mini futures markets finished mixed. The March E-mini S&P 500 Index settled at 2685.75, up 0.25 or +0.01%. The March E-mini Dow Jones Industrial Average closed at 24797, up 9.00 or +0.04% and the March E-mini NASDAQ-100 Index posted a modest loss at 6446.25, down 7.75 or -0.12%.
Despite extremely thin trading conditions, the Dow posted its 71st record close for the year on Thursday. According to CNBC, the Dow is on pace for a slightly higher close this week. This would mark the first time since 1954 that the Dow rose in each of the final six full weeks of the year.
The price action was muted again, with the second-fewest amount of shares transacted of any full trading day this year. This means that many investors are on the sidelines ahead of the last day of trading for 2017. This may be because they are putting off selling until January because they can put off the gains until the 2018 tax year.
The major stock markets in Asia posted a mixed performance early Friday on the last trading day of the year. The markets basically took its cue from the U.S. markets.
In Japan, the Nikkei 225 moved higher by 0.21 percent on thin volume. The market was supported by strength in the Automakers, technology and financial sectors. Gains were capped by weakness in retail stocks.
In Australia, the S&P/ASX 200 traded lower, down 0.22 percent. The index was pressured by across the board selling with the materials sector posting the only gain. Mining stock Rio Tinto closed 0.99 percent higher.
U.S. equity markets are trading slightly better early Friday in the pre-market futures session. Volume is expected to come in well-below average today.
There are no major U.S. economic reports today.